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First Quarter Realtor Sales up 12 Percent Compared to Last Year

Local Realtors enjoyed a strong start to the new year, with first quarter sales the highest in 11 years.

During the first three months of 2018, local Realtors® sold 444 homes worth $113.65 million, according to the High Country Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which records all Realtor® activity in the four-county area of Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga.

That is an increase of 12 percent from the first quarter of last year, and up 26 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016.

This year’s sales are also outpacing those at the start of 2007, which is prior to the collapse of the national housing market. Local Realtors® then sold 367 homes worth $97.22 million in the first quarter of that year.

March was the busiest month of the recent quarter. Realtors® sold 178 homes worth $43.92 million. The average sale price – total sales value divided by total listings sold – was $246,750.

As sales remained brisk, sellers began to enter market. There were 1,630 listings active in the MLS as of April 16. A year ago there were 1,989.

The local real estate market remained active even as interest rates increased. The average 30-year mortgage rate hit its highest level of the year in early March, at 4.42 percent, as reported by Freddie Mac.

Mortgage rates declined slightly in the ensuring weeks, before jumping again in April. Freddie Mac reported a new high for the year April 19, when the average 30-year rate was reported as 4.47 percent.

That’s the highest level reported since January 2014. It was 3.97 percent this time last year.

Nationally, real estate sales increased in February after two months of declines. That’s according to the latest sales report available from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

Total existing-home sales – which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – grew 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million in February.

“A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizeable interest in buying a home in early 2018.”